Breaking convention, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday announced the first list of five party candidates for the Assembly elections. The candidates named, including Dhananjay Munde, would all contest from the Beed district, where Pawar made the announcement at a meeting of NCP workers.
This is the first time since 1999 — when NCP was formed — that the first list of candidates has been announced by the party chief.
The NCP has fielded Dhananjay, the leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council, from Beed’s Parli seat, setting up a possible clash with his cousin and state Minister Pankaja Munde yet again. Pankaja had defeated Dhananjay in the 2014 Assembly polls from Parli by 25,895 votes.
Sandip Kshirsagar will contest from Beed, possibly against his uncle and former NCP leader Jaydutt Kshirsagar, who had recently defected to join the Shiv Sena.
While Vijaysinh Pandit will contest from Gevrai, Prakash Solanke will be the candidate from Majalgaon and Namita Mundada from Kaij.
Except a candidate for the Ashti seat in Beed, Pawar on Wednesday named nominees for all constituencies in the district.
The NCP, which earlier this week had finalised its seat-sharing agreement with the Congress, will contest 125 seats in the elections.
In the 2014 state elections, barring Beed — won by Jaydutt Kshirsagar — the rest of the seats from the district were won by the BJP.
“Since our party chief has announced the name of five candidates, this should be considered as the first list… we will soon put out the second list,” said NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik.
SP to join hands with Cong-NCP, contest from three constituencies
The Samajwadi Party (SP) will join hands with the Congress-NCP in Maharashtra and contest from three seats as part of the Opposition alliance. It will, however, put up a friendly fight with the Congress in Byculla where SP corporator Raees Shaikh will square off against the Congress candidate.
“We had demanded a total of seven seats from the Congress-NCP. We have been assured of three seats — Mankhurd, Aurangabad East and Bhiwandi East, where we will fight as allies of the Congress-NCP. The issue of the Byculla seat is contentious as the Congress wants to contest the seat. In all likelihood, we will have a friendly fight in Byculla as we too want to fight from there,” state SP president Abu Asim Azmi said.
Azmi said he was seeking three more seats from the Congress-NCP for which talks were still on. “Our main aim is to ensure that the BJP is not benefited due to the split in our votes,” Azmi said.
The Byculla constituency is represented by AIMIM legislator Waris Pathan. The SP has set its sight on the constituency with Shaikh, a corporator from the area, as the prospective candidate. The Congress is, however, not keen on letting go of the seat.
The Congress and the NCP last week finalised their seat-sharing agreement with both parties contesting an equal number of seats at 125 each. The two parties have decided to leave 38 seats for like-minded allies, including the SP.
The SP’s political clout is largely limited to Muslim pockets in the state. It’s best electoral performance was in 2009 when it won four seats with Azmi winning from two seats, Mankhurd and Bhiwandi. It presently has only one representative in the Maharashtra Assembly in Azmi, who represents Shivaji Nagar-Mankhurd constituency.